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Mini-bus drivers continue strike

By Keti Arjevanidze
Monday, January 28
After the three-day protest rally, a group of yellow mini bus drivers (marshrutkas) met with the representatives of the Tbilisi Microbus Company on January 27th, but the meeting did not yield any positive results for drivers.

Minibus drivers are going to continue the rallies with several demands, including the abolition of the status of individual entrepreneurs; improvement of working conditions; restoration of the workers dismissed unreasonably and a reduction in work load.

According to Gocha Makadze, drivers will continue protesting around Tbilisi City Hall. He also added that they will also include the cancellation of the tender on buses in the list of demands. Makadze admitted that restoring unreasonably dismissed workers was the only issue which the company promised to solve.

Protesters told the journalist that the company representatives responded to their main demand – the reduction of a working plan, that it needs special monitoring. The drivers think this process will need time while they require solving their problem immediately.

Drivers were also explained that parliament should decide the issue of revocation of the status of individual entrepreneurs; however, the drivers are going to revise this explanation with lawyers in order to determine the truthfulness of the company’s answer, IPN reported.

Driver Bidzina Khutsurauli, also released a demand about a price decrease. He said the tariff should be decreased from 80 to 50 tetris “as the poverty is Tbilisi is quite problematic,” he said.

The representatives of the Tbilisi Microbus Company said the company took drivers’ complaints into account and they are going to solve the problems in near future.

Human rights defender Lasha Chkhartishvili, declared after the meeting that it was not a surprise that the meeting did not yield any results because the only person who is able to solve the problem is Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava.

Tbilisi City Hall released a statement on January 25, reporting that the relationship between Tbilisi Microbus and yellow minibus drivers is a private legal matter and appealed to them to start negotiations in order to set the issue on time and not to damage Tbilisi residents.

“The initiative about abolishing the results of competition held in 2011, on buses was also mentioned. We believe that the competition was conducted in full compliance with the law and was based on the principle of justice,” reads the statement.

Tbilisi City hall called upon both sides to find a common language and choose a civilized way to solve the dispute among them. City hall also appealed to minibuses to continue working, taking the city’s residents interests into account. Tbilisi City Hall also stated that in order to avoid a transport collapse, they have increased the number of municipal transport options.